Talk magazine folds in midst of floundering economy and declining ad revenues

Saturday, January 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Talk magazine, the glossy monthly that struggled to turn a profit, has become the latest publication to fall victim to the dismal economic climate.

Tina Brown, the former New Yorker editor who founded Talk, said Friday that the magazine is shutting down, less than three years after its highly publicized launch. Talk's February issue will be its last.

``It cannot be anything but sad for all of us,'' Brown said in a statement. ``Unfortunately we had to be realistic about the fact that 2001 and 2002 to date represent the worst period in memory for general interest magazines.''

Talk had the backing of two media giants _ Miramax Films and Hearst Corp. _ when it was introduced in 1999 amid much fanfare.

The general interest magazine debuted with a widely discussed profile on former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and a celebrity-packed party on Liberty Island. The magazine moved the party there after a public showdown with former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who blocked plans for a party at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

A separate book publishing venture called Talk Miramax Books, which is wholly owned by Miramax films, will continue to operate. The book division has fared far better than the magazine, putting four titles on the New York Times best-seller list.

Despite an overall downturn in magazine advertising, Talk actually registered a 6 percent gain in advertising pages in 2001 compared to the year before. The magazine also had a strong circulation of 651,000, according to the most recent figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

But the floundering economy, which has already forced the closure this year of Homestyle magazine, led Talk's backers to reconsider how long it would take to make Talk turn a profit. Several other magazines have also shut down recently, including Mademoiselle and The Industry Standard.

Hearst president Frank Bennack and Miramax films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein released a joint statement saying they ``entered into this project with confidence that the magazine could be profitable in a reasonable time frame, but the prevailing economic climate forced us to readjust our thinking.''

Magazine advertising has been its worst in recent memory. Ad pages at major consumer magazines, a key industry barometer, tumbled 19.4 percent in December compared to the same month a year ago and 11.7 percent for all of 2001.